I'd like to congratulate the class of 2014, you've chosen a rough life of service. A higher, more noble calling- The road less taken. As you'll often hear: "You are special and that's why you can't have a normal life." That said, my purpose here is simply to offer a warning from the perspective of a former cadet. USCGA is military, and the military is a bureaucracy. At one point during your cadet career "the man" is going to get you for something petty, and for some, the consequences will be huge. My story: I reported in to the class of 2013 on June 29, 2009. I loved Swab Summer. I adored the challenge. Just as any other cadet I am mentally and physically gifted. Swab Summer taught me how strong I am and how well I can apply those gifts. I learned to dedicate myself to a higher purpose and to put the team first. I did well during Swab Summer- I performed exceptionally well on my OER and was often congratulated by my divison officers. I wasn't a "Super Swab" but I did well.Then the Academy started. Swab Summer is the easiest part of cadet life. The challenges are laid clearly before you. Your company is under pressure and that helps mold you into a very effective and friendly team. The Academy is the opposite. The schoolwork didn't kill me. I took an AP saturated course load during highschool. The Academy didn't give me credit for them, but that was fine- I was able to retake classes to pad out my gpa. (At midterm I was carrying a 3.2 which is pretty good at USCGA) I often tutored some of my classmates in Chemistry, Calculus, and Nautical Science. The point I'm trying to make is that while my performance was nothing exceptional I certainly met the standard. As the semester wore on, I began to realize how unhappy the academy made me. The "bright future" offered to me began to seem dim and undesirable. I'm gifted with languages, not engineering. Unfortunately for me the academy is an engineering school- even government or business majors take huge amounts of calculus. I realized that the reason I chose military was because I believed I could apply my gifts to their fullest potential in service of my country, but the Coast Guard had no need for the gifts I most believed in. I decided that the path I was on was only going to lead me to an unfulfilled career I didn't want. I decided to finish the year and then leave on "sabbatical" which meant I could always return to USCGA within 3 years as a 3/c Cadet- I didn't want to write off a Coast Guard career entirely. On November 8, 2009 that changed for me. My English professor was teaching us about proper citations and we were required to write a midterm essay about media bias, worth 30% of our grade. I did so and used the recent corporation bailout as evidence. The point I made was that the total of the bailout was 170 Billion, and 165 Million of it was used to pay bonuses and that some new organizations were taking advantage of the magnitude of these numbers to provoke their followers to outrage (even though less than 1/1000 of the bailout went to bonuses) I believe those numbers are common knowledge to any informed citizen. My English professor disagreed. He called me to his office regarding the essay and said: (direct quote) "You can either admit you're a stupid fourth class and didn't know better, or I can open an honor investigation. Regardless, this constitutes plagiarism and I am giving you a zero on this assignment." I was speechless. Regardless of whether those numbers are common knowledge or not a citation error (about numbers!) is not plagiarism, and is not an honor offense. Honor offenses are the equivalent of a felony at the academy- while one won't get you disenrolled it's a huge blow to your career. I decided that because I was unhappy with USCGA and wanted to transfer to a different school, it would be better to leave before the semester ended so that I could protect my transcript from a failing grade and honor investigation. I spoke to my company officer and began the process of withdrawing. I planned to join USAFROTC as an Arabic Major. I specifically asked my company officer if anything from the academy would follow me and keep me out of USAFROTC. He (in no uncertain terms) told me it would not and that I'd only run into problems if I tried to rejoin USCGA. That played a huge role in my decision- I could follow my ambitions in an organization with better use for my skills with no consequences. On November 25, 2009 I officially resigned from the Coast Guard, returned my military ID and uniforms. I've spent the last semester at a local college getting back on my feet and padding out my GPA with gen. ed. courses. I interviewed with the ROTC detachment and they were very willing to accept me as long as I provided them with a DD785 (disenrollment from an officer training program). I requested this form from the Academy. It says: "Mr. *** (me) adapted poorly to military life. Mr. *** (me) was often immature and performed well below standards. Mr. *** faced an academic honor offense prior to his withdrawal. With significant maturity increase (he) could be considered for another military program" Signed, The same officer who said nothing from CGA would follow me into AFROTC. Moral of the story: Do not trust anyone at USCGA. You will be in trouble at some point, no matter how lightly or carefully you tread, it's just the nature of the program. 20% of you will leave, and if you have any hope of following a military career afterward request your DD785 IMMEDIATELY. USCGA likes to hurt former cadets because horror stories from cadets who left serve as an excellent deterrent from voluntary disenrollment. I have been treated unfairly twice, each of which has been extremely costly. The "Man" got me down. They'll get you too- all you can do is damage control.